Alba-Golden, Grand Saline battle to wire
The Feb. 11 season finale between the Alba-Golden Lady Panthers and the hosting Grand Saline Lady Indians finished with some frantic action and a narrow, 45-44, loss for the Lady Panthers.
Each team had weathered a challenging season and had little to play for but heart. That fact made for an excellently-competed game. Both squads took seriously the opportunity to wrap the season on a positive note.
Alba-Golden leveraged some great inside play by Kylie Kennedy to match the Lady Indians in the first quarter. A 3-pointer from far beyond the arc by Cacie Lennon at the buzzer put the Lady Panthers ahead 11-9 at the quarter break.
Kennedy scored twice on offensive rebound put backs in the second quarter. Bella Crawford scored on a nice give and go off a fast break, and Jordin Barnhart also put back an offensive rebound for a score. The Lady Panthers finished the half on a basket from Crimson Bryant courtesy of a Lennon assist.
Were it not for the 13 turnovers, Alba-Golden would likely have had a comfortable lead at the break. The turnovers were not a result of defensive pressure from Grand Saline but hopeful passing and trying to do too much. The Lady Panthers committed only six turnovers in the second half, as the game tightened.
Coach Eric Boettcher’s charges played their best ball in the third quarter. Consistent play, with Bryant, Kennedy, Crawford and Kallie Wright all recording scores, was featured as the Lady Panthers took a 10-point lead with :57 left before the quarter break. Two quick 3-pointers by the Lady Indians closed the score to 36-32.
The Lady Panthers were snake bit by excessive personal fouls all night. Early in the fourth, Wright fouled out. Crawford joined her at the 2:42 mark and Bryant also had to sit in the last critical minute of the game.
The game was tied twice in the fourth, at 36 all and again at 41 with only 1:45 to play. Four successful free throw shots by Grand Saline proved to be the difference down the stretch.
Alba-Golden drew within a point as Justina Peterson hit a beautiful turnaround jumper from the baseline with just seconds on the clock. Following a time out, Peterson intercepted a long inbound pass and was fouled. Her first free throw ticked off the front of the rim. Kennedy secured the rebound, but before she could put the ball back up, time expired.
It certainly was not the season which the Lady Panthers had envisioned. However, they demonstrated moments of pure basketball eloquence.
Late in the first half Lennon found Bryant with a beautiful baseline pass. Early in the fourth quarter Lennon rifled an assist to Kennedy from the top of the key to the low post. Each assist resulted in scores.